Solar Tariffs Will Stifle Energy Access for the World’s Poorest

The White House recently announced a new tariff and quota regime that attaches a 30 percent tariff to solar cells and modules that declines over time. The decision, which is expected to increase the price of electricity from new United States solar projects, has spurred a lively debate in the U.S. around whether these trade barriers are good or bad for businesses and workers, and to what extent cost increases will soften solar demand in the U.S. On the other side of the globe, Energy Access Project staff Jonathan Phillips and Hannah Girardeau write in Devex, that there is a similar debate roiling around the treatment of solar panels and related equipment in trade policy. In the U.S., shifting tariff policy will drive changes in the sources of power generation. But for energy consumers across sub-Saharan Africa, the stakes are much higher. The debate over import tariffs there may decide whether millions of people will be able to gain access to electricity at all.
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